In ancient times, when
the poor were supported by voluntary contributions, it was customary to
carry cripples from one farm-house to another, each family giving the
vagrant an awmous, and conveying him or her to the nearest neighbour,
who had then to assume the same responsibility. Nothing but the idea
that it was an incumbent duty on all classes of the community to
contribute directly to the relief of the necessitous poor, could have
made them submit to such an amount of drudgery and inconvenience.
A lame man was being
conveyedin these circumstanceson a stretcher, by two men, across a
grass field in which were a number of cows and a bull. The bull no
sooner saw the cavalcade than he charged it at once. The two bearers
dropped their burden in terror and took to their heels, thinking that
the lame man would, of necessity, have to sustain the animals attack,
but so far from that being the case, the cripple man also ran, and
fairly outstripped the other two. The bull thus rendered good service in
exposing a sham, and the would-be lame man ceased to be a burden on
In the early part of this
century a decent simple-minded elderly weaver in Kirkintilloch was
walking out from Glasgow, carrying a jar of barm or yeast. At the
farm-house, near Springburn, called the Troch Stane," the jar suddenly
burst with a loud report, and the contents were plentifully bespattered
over the face and clothes of the bearer. It instantaneously occurred to
him that some one had fired at, and shot him, and such was the terror
which the idea conveyed to him, that he sunk down on the road, and lay
as immovable as if he had actually been fatally wounded. A friend of his
came up very soon, and in great surprise asked him what was the matter
with him. Oh, man, said the weaver, Im shot. His friend felt him
all over, and said, Hoots, nonsense; theres naething wrang wiye. The
weaver, drawing his hand across his brow,, and holding it up to his
friend, with part of the yeast on it, said solemnly and earnestly, Man,
its as sures death; theres my brains.
A minister in
Kirkintilloch, visiting one of his parishioners who was sick, and whose
wife was tending him, was engaged in prayer with them, and while so
occupied, the Kirkintilloch brass band went past, playing loudly.
Concluding shortly, he looked around, and was surprised to find the
woman absent. She soon appeared, however, and said, with great
simplicity, Oh! yere dune; yeve shairly been shorter than the last
time. I was keen to see hoo oor Jock would look in his new claes, an I
thocht I would be back before ye was dune.
Lest our readers should
fancy that this good woman had a type of mind peculiar to Kirkintilloch,
we give a few anecdotes of a clergyman, who was evidently possessed of
the same liberal spirit.
The Rev. William Porteous,
was parish minister of Kilbuho from 1785 till 1813. The name Kilbuho
has occurred in the course of this work. It is near Biggar, and belonged
to the Flemings at one time. As their retainers of Biggar, Lenzie, and
Kirkintilloch, were doubtless marshalled together under their lords
banner at Bannockburn, it is but fair that their descendants should
share the same anecdotes; it is all in the family, as it were.
On stormy Sabbath days
the number of hearers who found their way to the secluded valley in
which the church stood were few, and therefore, Mr. Porteous was in the
practice of preaching to them in the kitchen of the manse. He was
thoroughly earnest and devout in his respect to his Creator, and in his
performance of religious exercises, but being a confirmed bachelor,
parsimonious in his disposition, and taking a deep interest in the
management of domestic affairs, he was sometimes led, in the time of
worship, to pause and refer to passing incidents in a manner truly
ludicrous and almost profane. When preaching in the kitchen he would
stop all at once in the midst of his discourse and say to a hearer,
Nannie, as ye are nearest the fire, steer aboot the kail pat; or,
addressing his sister, who kept his house, would say, As the wather is
cauld, pit a few more peats on the fire; or, As my discoorse is
drawing to a close, clap the potato pat on the swee.
When performing family
worship in the kitchen, his interjaculatory commands and observations
were still more frequent. He would even suspend his prayer and put a
question regarding the feeding of the hens, the milking of the cows, or
the preparing of the parritch; and having received an answer would
resume the work of devotion. The same strange procedure was sometimes
observed during his diets of visiting and examination. On one occasion,
while engaged in devotional exercises in the house of a farmer, he
abruptly put the following question to the astonished agriculturalist,
By the by, John, doo ye ken hoo to ring a soos nose?
On another occasion he
held a diet of examination in the house of one of his parishioners, and
among other neighbours that attended was Mr. Thomas Core, the famed
customer weaver of South-side, who had a short time before been
entrusted with the weaving of a plaid for the minister. Mr. Core did not
arrive till the devotional part of the work had commenced, but no sooner
did he shew face than Mr. Porteous stopped and said, Come awa', Tammas,
hae ye no* got my plaid woven yet?man! yere lang aboot it.
Mr. Porteouss income was
small, and while his ministerial duties were not neglected, he had a
constant eye on the dairy, the hen roost, and the crops. The glebe, in
fact, was to a great extent cultivated with his own hands, as he took a
principal part in the work of sowing, hoeing, mowing, reaping, etc.
While engaged in the labour of the field he was generally in a sad state
of dkshabille, and, therefore, at such times was much annoyed at
receiving visits from strangers. One day he was busily employed in
binding and stooking, divested of hat, wig, coat, and vest, when one of
his co-presbyters unexpectedly made a descent on his domains. No sooner
was he descried than Mr. Porteous ensconced himself in a stook, and
remained there till the intruder withdrew.
One summer the heat was
oppressive. The hay crop could no longer remain uncut, and, therefore,
one morning Mr. Porteous rose early and commenced the work of mowing,
but was soon drenched with perspiration. He was not to be baffled. He
stript off one piece of dress after another till he had reduced himself
to his shirt, and, in this primitive state, plied the scythe with vigour.
Mr. Davidson, who occupied the adjoining farm of Mitchelhill, on taking
a turn across his fields, observed the minister busy at work in this
strange fashion, and resolved to give him a surprise. On reaching home
he requested one of his servant-maids to carry the newspaper, which the
minister was in the habit of getting weekly, to the manse, and if she
saw him by the way to deliver it to himself. The damsel obeyed orders,
and as the minister was intently engaged with his work, he did not
observe her approach. No sooner did she announce her errand than he
turned round in wrath, and exclaimed, Avaunt thee, thou intruding
harlot, thou wicked Jezebel, approach me not! So saying he threw down
the scythe, and retreated to the place where his clothes were deposited.
The maid, having laid down the newspaper on the field, withdrew; and it
was observed that Mr. Porteous ever afterwards pursued his agricultural
toils in a more becoming guise.
Mr. Porteous sometimes,
though rarely, invited a party of his friends to an entertainment at the
manse. His invitations were generally accepted, for, though his viands
were homely and meagre enough, his conversation was racy and
instructive, and the curiosity, particularly of the ladies, was
gratified by a peep into the interior of his domicile, and a swatch of
the oddities of his housekeeping. On one occasion he invited several of
his acquaintances at Biggar to dinner, among whom was Miss Rachael
Bowie, who was in the habit of often referring to what then took place.
They went early, she said, to enjoy a stroll among the mountains, and
when they came in sight of the manse, they were surprised to see the
minister and his sister armed with cudgels driving a cow furiously up
and down. After arriving at the manse, and waiting a short time, the
cause of the violent exercise with hawky was made apparent.
The minister had
confidently calculated that the cow would calve previous to the day
fixed for the dinner, and would thus supply him with the principal dish,
in the shape of roasted veal. But the best-laid schemes o mice and men
gang aft a-gley. The day arrived, and hawky gave no signs of
parturition. Not a single article had been provided of which a
substitute could be made, and in this dilemma the cow had been turned
out and subjected to a course of rough treatment in order to bring about
the desired result, but without effect. The guests, after being regaled
with a piece of bread and cheese, had to return to Biggar with rather
empty stomachs, but not without a good laugh at the parsimony and
eccentricities of their reverend friend.
A minister of Crosmichael,
in Fife, frequently talked from the pulpit to his hearers with amusing,
and, indeed, irreverent familiarity. Expounding a passage in Exodus one
day he proceeded thus :And the Lord said unto Moses* sneck that door!
Im thinking if ye had to sit beside the door yersel ye wadna be sae
ready leaving it open. It was just beside that door that Yedam Tam son,
the bellman, got his death o cauld; and Im sure, honest man, he didna
let it stay muckle open. 'And the Lord said unto Moses I see a man
aneath the laft wi his hat on. Im sure, man, yere clear o the soogh
o the door there. Keep aff your bannet, Thomas, and if your bare pow be
cauld, ye maun just get a grey worsted Wig, like mysel. Theyre no
dearplenty o them at Bob Gillespies for tenpence apiece. The
reverend gentleman then proceeded with his discourse.
A country schoolmaster,
who found it difficult to make his pupils observe the difference in
reading between a comma and a full stop, adopted a plan of his own,
which, he flattered himself, would make them proficient in the art of
punctuation. Thus, in reading, when they came to a comma, they were to
say tick, and read on; to a colon, or semi-colon, tick, tick, and
when a full stop, tick, tick, tick.
Our worthy dominie
received notice that the parish minister was to pay a visit of
examination to the school, and, as he was desirous that his pupils
should show to the best advantage, he gave them an extra drill the day
before the examination. "Now, said he, addressing the pupils, when you
read before the minister to-morrow, you must leave out the ticks, but
think them as you go along, for the sake of elocution.
Next day came, and with
it the minister. It so happened, however, that the first boy called up
by the minister had been absent the day before, and in the hurry the
master had forgotten to give him instructions how to act. The minister
asked the boy to read a chapter in the Old Testament, which he pointed
out. The boy complied, and in his best accent beganAnd the Lord spake
unto Moses, sayingtickspeak unto the children of Israel
ticksayingtickand thus shalt thou say unto them tick, tick, tick!
This unfortunate sally,
in his own style, acted like a shower-bath on the dominie, whilst the
minister and his friend almost choked with laughter.
A minister in
Kirkintilloch who had agreed to preach in Campsie, walked over there on
a warm summer morning, and as there was a refreshing breeze, the dust of
the road was flying in clouds. By the time he reached Campsie he began
to wonder if his countenance might not have assumed a darker hue than
usual in consequence of the dust, and the first thing he did on getting
into the session-house was to look for a mirror wherein to see the
actual state of his physiognomy. Not finding one he said to the beadle,
who was in attendance, Sandie, I would be the better of a glass.
Sandie made no answer, but went out, and was absent for a considerable
time. At last he made his appearance, and with a countenance beaming
with intelligence, produced a small bottle from his pocket in which was
half a gill of whisky, which he laid on the table, with the remark, I
had an unco defeeculty to get it, sir, but I managed it.
A young couple had just
been married in the manse, and the clergyman, after the ceremony was
over, jocularly said to the bridegroom, Noo, John, ye maun gie her a'
her ain way, to which he replied, I'll gie her a her ain way, but
Ill tak guid care she gets nane o' mine, sir.
The late Rev. Mr. Forman,
not long after his induction to Kirkintilloch, was getting some work
done in his garden by his beadle, who demanded payment. On Mr. Forman
stating that he got such services done gratis in his last parish, the
beadle said, Na, na, that's no the way here, it's pay and be paid.
The following anecdote
has attained a world-wide circulation:An inhabitant of the old town who
had been drinking heavily one night, staggered into the old church
burying-ground, and fell into a partially made grave, where he passed
the remainder of the night sound asleep. A mail-coach started in the
early morning quite adjacent to the spot, and the guard blew a loud
blast on his horn. This awaked the sleeper, but, confused and drowsy, he
could not comprehend at first where he was, far less how he got there;
but getting up and looking around he at last gathered that he was lying
in the church-yard, and, coupling this with the blast of the trumpet,
conceived that it was the day of judgment. Expecting companions, but
seeing none, he was heard to mutter to himself: A puir turn-oot for
Kirkintilloch! only mysel*.
A curious character who
lived in Kilsyth many years ago will still be remembered by someSandy
Lairdoch. Sandy was esteemed silly or had a slate off, and eked out
a precarious livelihood by going messages, or doing orra jobs for
people, but disliked settled or regular work.
The parish minister had
given Sandy a suit of his old black clothes, and they met together on
the road a few days afterwards, Sandy looking highly respectable and
reverend in his sable habiliment. The minister said to him, Sandy, now
that you are decently clad, I would like to see you in church regularly,
and it is not seemly for a man like you to be going about idle. Could
you not get something to do is there nothing you could work at? Sandy
looked for a minute at his interrogator, and then, shrugging his
shoulders, repliedHa, ha! us black-coated lads dinna like to work
muckle, Im thinkin!
Robert Clacher, or Rab,
as he was called, was a well-known wit in Kirkintilloch many years ago.
He was wheeling a barrow-load of coals down the Cowgate one hot day in
summer, and had paused to take a rest by sitting on his load, his face
l>eing bathed in perspiration. The Rev Mr. Forman passing at the time
said to him, Well, Robert, you're earning your bread by the sweat of
your brow. Oo, ay, replied Rab, but you earn yours by the win* o
One of the inmates of
Woodilee went regularly on Sundays to a church in Kirkintilloch. The
beadle of the church being his friend, he was in the habit of going to
his house an hour before the service began, and always brought the
rather singular gift of a dumpling to his friends children. One Sunday
the dumpling was not produced, and the two chums went to church as
usual. The minister was just seated in the pulpit, and the beadle was
walking along the passage when he heard from above a sound of Hist.
Looking up, he beheld his friend leaning over the front of the gallery,
who followed up his call by saying:Heres the dumpling, I forgot it,
and forthwith dropped the article on the astonished officer, who,
however, had the presence of mind to catch it as it fell, so that no
catastrophe occurred except to the risible faculties of the spectators.
An auctioneer in a small
town in the north of Scotland had his house next door to his business
premises. While engaged with some of his clients one morning, his little
son entered, and said loudly, Faither, your parritch is ready. On
getting to his house, the father said to his boy, Youre no to come
rinnin in and cryin oot before a the folk, Your parritch is ready,
you should say, Theres a gentleman waitin for you. Next morning the
boy came in at the accustomed hour, and briskly said, Faither, theres
a gentleman waitin for you. His parent, however, was engrossed in
attendance on several customers, and paid no attention to the summons,
when the boy, after waiting about ten minutes, rather enlivened the
audience by rushing in and bawling out, Faither, if ye dinna come
quick, the gentleman ll be quite cauld.
Some men had begun to
sink a pit, and, while so engaged, a natural of the district came and
asked them what they were howkin* there for. The foreman, who knew him,
answered Were sinkin a pit doon to Australia, whaur the gold is.
Ay, man, said the other; but would ye no be better to sail to
Australia, and howk up; ye would hae nae bather then wi the dirt: it
would jist fa awa frae ye.
The Rev. Mr. Horn, of
Corstorphine, was examining a class of boys upon the names by which the
Devil is known in Scripture. One gave Beelzebub, another Satan, when
there was a pause. At last one little fellow held up his hand, and Mr.
Horn said, Well, my man, what other name? Hornie, answered the boy,
and the subject for the time was, of course, exhausted.
Professor John Hill, of
Edinburgh, walked each morning on the Calton Hill. Tom Jackson, a
reputed idiot, was generally on the road before him, and the professor,
annoyed by what he regarded as an intrusion, said to him one morning,
Tom, how long may one live without brains? I dinna ken, sir,
responded Tom; how lang hae ye lived yerser.
The Rev. Professor Kidd,
of Aberdeen, was alike humorous and eccentric. The worthy doctor was
much annoyed by drowsy hearers. There was one man, clothed with a red
waistcoat, who had got a seat directly under the doctors eye. This man
began first of all to nod, showing that, if not fairly asleep, he was at
least on the highway to it. Waken that man, suddenly exclaimed the
doctor. The man was pinched and wakened up accordingly by his neighbours.
But he was awakened only to fall asleep again, and more determinedly
than before. I say again, waken that red-breasted sinner, there,
shouted the doctor a second time, and a second time was the sleeper
roused from his slumbers by his neighbouring and more watchful
fellow-worshippers. But in a twinkling he was fast asleep a third time,
and his worthy pastors patience being fairly exhausted, he grasped a
small pocket Bible lying at his hand, and sending it at the sleeper with
unerring aim, hit him on the side of the head. Now, says he, sir, if
you will not hear the word of God, you shall feel it. There was not a
minister in the kingdom who could have ventured to give so striking a
The Rev, Dr. Blair, of
Haddington, called one forenoon on one of his parishioners, a woman who
worked in the fields, and had that morning found a horse-shoe. The
doctor remarked, Jenny, you're in luck to-day with your horse-shoe.
Weel, weel, replied she, see what learning does. Ive been wonderin'
a1 morning whether it was a horse or a mears, an* I ne'er wad hae fand
it oot mysel\
Dr. David Johnston,
minister of North Leith, in the course of visiting his parish, entered
the house of a Secession elder. I cannot receive you, said the
householder, for I abhor the State religion, and assert the great
voluntary principle. Mildly replied Dr. Johnston; Jerusalem has twelve
gates, and all lead to the temple; I hope well meet there. Theres my
hand, sir, said the objector, and God bless you.
The Rev. Mr. B- while a
student in the arts classes appeared in his usual place one morning
quite unprepared» having been on pleasure bent the night before.
He was a young, clever,
scholarly, and shrewd fellow, and as he had made good appearances
previously, he was unwilling to say non paratus, and thereby lose all
chance of a prize. He was by no means daunted, however. He knew that
Professor R- invariably looked down on his book after calling the name
of a student, and took his measures accordingly. He always had with him
a little blackthorn stick, and no sooner did the professor call his name
and look down, than Mr. B-flourished the stick around his head, shilelah
fashion, the class simultaneously bursting into laughter.
The professor, supposing
that it was something in the students appearance that had provoked the
mirth, looked up, glared in wrath and astonishment, and gave the young
men a ten minutes lecture on their rudeness and want of courtesy. He
then quietly said, Go on, Mr. B-when the same pantomime was performed,
and the same merriment followed.
The professor then
renewed his angry remonstrances, and in closing, addressed Mr. B-, no
doubt to that gentleman's intense reliefIn view of these interruptions
I will not ask you to proceed. I dismiss the class.
About fifty years ago an
elderly man in Kirkintilloch was hearing a novel read by one of his
family. The heroine of the story was killed by a catastrophe in the
usual manner, and the old listener became so deeply affected as to shed
tears. One of his sons said to him that he need not take the matter so
deeply to heart as it was only a novel. Novel or no novel, replied the
father, the lady lost her life.
A man whose wife had
died, employed a friend to write to some of her relations announcing her
death. There was 90me difficulty about the way in which his feelings
were to be described. The bereaved man assured him that it must be
something very lamentable, and asked what he would suggest. He is like
a dove mourning for its mate; but that was not considered strong
enough. Like a sparrow on the housetop alone, was next suggested: that
was better, but not quite the thing. Like a bear bereft of her
whelps, was next proposed. Ay, put that down, its the very thing.
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